Choosing Love, Vulnerability, and Empathy to Quiet the Fear That Is Around Us (#219)

Choosing Love, Vulnerability, and Empathy to Quiet the Fear That Is Around Us (#219)

Empathy and vulnerability are tremendously powerful, and everyone is talking about them, but how do we actually use them? Michael Gagnon returns to the show to discuss how to put these to work for you.

Michael and I dive into empathy and vulnerability. They are tremendously powerful, and everyone is talking about them, but how do we actually use them? We talk about the challenges in using them, the vast benefits of them and give examples from our lives and work about how to put them to work for you. We also discuss related topics like choosing our responses (and sometimes needing to choose again), that vulnerability doesn’t mean being a pushover so how do we create boundaries, and how to put the brakes on fear that seems to permeate society. Special thank you to my guest, Michael Gagnon, for coming back on the show. Michael is Senior Manager, Strategic Sales at GoTo and has been in leadership positions for more than a decade.


[00:00] Michael: So many years ago, I got an email like that, and my initial response was just to unravel and just immediately sweat and blood pressure is rising. And as my thumbs are working feverishly to get a response out, I just decided to pause for a second. I don’t know what it was, but I just felt like, this is probably not this is not the best method. Got to be a better way. And Gabby Bernstein talks about this too, like the choose again method, right, of like when you notice, even just the noticing of that initial response, it’s that feeling of, I just put my hand on the stove. I thought I might need to make a different decision in that moment. Thinking through it, I decided not to respond from a place of fear. I was going to choose love and recognize the humanity and the person that was sending that email.

[01:02] Bobbi: Welcome to UnYielded: Thriving No Matter What, where we talk about how to make your next chapter in life your best chapter. I’m your host Bobbi Kahler, and I believe that the best is yet to come. In this conversation, Michael and I dive into empathy and vulnerability. They are both tremendously powerful and everyone’s talking about them, but are we actually using them? So we talk about the challenges when we’re trying to implement them, the vast benefits of using them, and we also give examples from our own lives and work about how to put them to work for us. We also dive into related topics like choosing our responses and sometimes, as what Michael referred to in that opening clip, sometimes we have to choose again. We also talk about that vulnerability doesn’t mean being a pushover. So then how do we create boundaries? How do we still stand up for ourselves even if we are being vulnerable? And finally, another thing that we spend some time on is how to put the brakes on fear. Because right now in our society, fear seems to be permeating everything the news, social media interactions. How do we put the brakes on that so we can choose differently and come from a place of love. For some of you who have listened to the podcast before, you know that you’re going to recognize this guest. He’s Michael Gagnon. I’ve known Michael, oh, gosh for more than a decade, and he’s one of my favorite people to talk to. He is a senior strategic sales manager at Goto, and he’s been in leadership positions for more than a decade. And what I can tell you, from the very moment I met Michael all those years ago, he was a real standout to me. So I hope you’ll help me welcome Michael back to the show. Hey, Michael, welcome back to the show.

[03:05] Michael: Thank you, Bobbi. I am so excited to be here. Thanks for having me back.

[03:08] Bobbi: Absolutely. We’ve been talking for what? Oh, 20 minutes already? You tend to get talking. So this is awesome. All right, so you’ve been here, this is your third time. Just as a reminder for any listeners who haven’t heard the first two episodes, just quick reminder who you are and what you do.

[03:27] Michael: Sure. My name is Michael GAGNAN and I am a senior strategic sales manager at Goto. It’s a software as a service company that does remote work software.

[03:36] Bobbi: Perfect. And I’m going to put a link to the other two episodes because people need to check those out. Those are great interviews or great conversations. So today we connected because I don’t remember how long it was ago that you sent me a message on LinkedIn and said, hey, we should be talking about vulnerability and empathy. And you have a unique perspective because your sales manager and anyone who’s ever been in sales knows it’s not the most chill of all environments. There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to that and I think people can relate. There’s pressure in everything that we do. There’s stress at all environments. I do think that sales is a real pressure cooker. So, empathy and vulnerability, what made you reach out to me and say, this is something we should talk about?

[04:20] Michael: I was thinking about just my own personal development and the buzzwords right now are around empathy and vulnerability. And so there’s a lot of emphasis on how that’s how we should show up and self compassion and grace and all of these buzzwords. But when it really comes down to how we show up each day, we’re not all conditioned to do that. Right. I’m speaking for myself. That’s not necessarily the default. And so I figured if I’m struggling and working through it and challenging myself to show up as a leader who leads with empathy, I wanted to make sure that I thought it was a good conversation for others to hear too.

[05:05] Bobbi: Yeah. Because I think it is one of those things that it’s a great buzzwords and how much are we talking about it versus actually doing it being it. So as a leader who wants to lead with empathy, what are some of the challenges you see with that?

[05:24] Michael: I think it’s very easy for folks to put labels of victim and villain on our coworkers right. Or the people in our lives. I know I probably am often the villain.

[05:45] Bobbi: Let me talk to Mike.

[05:47] Michael: Right, exactly. Yeah. I think it’s easy to put the labels and to get in a place of reacting and responding to other people. And there’s a difference between reacting and responding. And I think that’s what I’m working on for myself is that reacting is that initial emotional gut check that triggered response, where a response is a little bit more nuanced and reasoned and I can take a moment and think through it. As a leader, it’s easy to get frustrated if something isn’t going our way, if someone said they’re going to perform XYZ function and then they don’t do it. I found in myself that gut reaction of, oh, why don’t they do it? They said they were going to do it. We’re past the deadline. Why can’t they meet the deadline? And instead of taking a second back to say, okay, I’m going to take a deep breath, I need to probably ask some questions and approach it from a perspective of, hey, I’ve noticed this. We seem to be missing some deadlines. Let’s talk a little bit about your approach to work. Do we need to reconsider some of these deadlines? Is there a better way? Do we need to take some of your workload off? Right? There’s a very different response between the two. And so I feel like we’re not always in a sales environment where there’s pressure for deadlines, there’s pressure against time, there’s pressure against quota, and there’s a lot writing on that. It’s an environment that can really encourage more of the villainhood victimhood emotional responses versus kind of really you don’t always feel like you have the luxury of time to take a step back and really reason through a response as a leader, but you create the culture that you want as a frontline manager. You are responding to information coming down to you. And if that’s a lot of information from a place of fear, and then you have to then translate that to your team. If you’re then translating that fear over, I haven’t found it to be very effective in my career.

[07:58] Bobbi: No.

[07:59] Michael: And what I’m trying to do is, how do I translate that? Instill the confidence in the business that I know what I’m doing, and we can reason through this and then also come with a reasoned response to my team to filter the information so that it’s not getting lost in translation. Right. We obviously have to execute on our quota, execute on goals, but we don’t have to do it from a place of lack or a place of fear.

[08:23] Bobbi: Yeah, I love that. Okay, so I’m making a bunch of notes here.

[08:29] Michael: Okay.

[08:29] Bobbi: So I heard you say a few things there with the villain and victim, right? Where it’s like there are things like urgency where we feel like we don’t have time, and it’s like, oh, it’s just faster if I go in there and just tell them what they’re doing wrong. But we all know that as don’t work because how many times you want to tell someone, right? And that’s what we’re setting ourselves up for, is to tell them and tell them and tell them and tell them until we’re both just, like, out of our minds about it. The other thing, though, is that when you take the approach of curiosity, which is what you’re talking about, like, oh, what’s going on? Is the workload too heavy? That type of thing. The amazing thing about that is that when we are curious, we cannot be judgmental. It’s impossible for us to be both curious and judgmental at the same time. The important thing about that is not just what it does for us, but what it does for the other person. Because think about it, if I come at you and I’m like, I’m being judgmental, how are you going to respond?

[09:24] Michael: Very defensive.

[09:25] Bobbi: Very defensive, right? Yet if I come to you and I’m like, hey, Michael, let’s explore this a little bit, and it’s a genuine place of curiosity. Now we’re on the same side of the table. So it’s one of those things that it’s such a simple, simple concept. I think it’s hard to execute sometimes, but it’s a simple concept, and it’s so powerful. It’s incredibly powerful. So I’m glad you brought that up. The other thing I want to explore there is you said when you’re getting the information from above place of fear, and if you just transmit that out to your team in that same place of fear, the results aren’t typically good. So is there something that you’re doing to try to take this information and maybe put that into a new language, however you want to put that?

[10:13] Michael: It’s a good point, and I think it can be boiled down to it’s a choice. Right? Just like you explained about how when you’re curious, you can’t be judgmental, it’s a choice. Curious, right. So we’ve all experienced it where I think we can all say there’s been a moment where we get an email either late at night or checking our phones, the work email, and it’s usually a bit rushed or there’s some urgency or immediacy needed to it. And it’s usually not a note of like, congratulations, you’re amazing.

[10:52] Bobbi: Those ones late at night are never about that. For some reason, I want to disturb your sleep, so I’m going to send you this.

[11:00] Michael: Right? So many years ago, I got an email like that, and my initial response was just to unravel and just immediately sweat and blood pressure is rising as my thumbs are working feverishly to get a response out. I just decided to pause for a second. I don’t know what it was, but I just felt like this is probably not this is not the best method. It’s got to be a better way. And Gabby Bernstein talks about this too, like the choose again method, right? Of like when you notice, even just the noticing of that initial response, it’s that feeling of, I just put my hand on the stove. I might need to make a different decision in that moment, thinking through it, I decided not to respond from a place of fear. I was going to choose love and recognize the humanity and the person that was sending that email. There’s a reason where it’s coming from. It’s not because they’re evil, ogre and trying to ruin my sleep. It’s not because there was anything that they weren’t trying to make me feel a certain way. They were facing pressures themselves. That came from somewhere else, from that person receiving pressure. I decided not to repeat the cycle and I was going to choose love and I was going to explain ultimately what I felt was missing. This person didn’t have all the information and they were reaching out about a sales deal that they felt like was being handled poorly. And I didn’t agree. A part of that vulnerability is also still having boundaries. So I didn’t completely cave. I didn’t give in. But I very calmly just said, I don’t share that concern. This is why. This is what we’ve done. This is the information that you don’t have and I’m happy to talk to you about it. And so the next day, the next morning, during business hours, we sat down, we worked through all the additional details and at the end of the conversation, it worked out that they thought we had the right approach. Instead of saying, you need to completely change gears, you’re terrible at your job, they came from a place of saying thank you. Yes, I was missing this information. It was very helpful and I feel like we’re on the right track now.

[13:27] Bobbi: Yeah.

[13:27] Michael: So to your broader point, it is a choice and it’s probably not the first. I know it’s not the first choice I go to. That is not where my mind initially goes, especially in a moment that’s high emotions, high stakes end, a quarter, any of those moments, that is not where I’m wired to go is peace and love and light. It’s a reaction. And so the idea of choose again, that we get to choose again has resonated really well with me and it reminds me that I can be a little bit more graceful with myself. I can forgive that initial reaction and because I didn’t send the email, good for you. It gives me a chance to work backwards. And even if I did, there’s still an option to choose again. But just giving myself the chance to respond versus react, I think has been the big piece there. And so it is a choice and it’s every day. You mentioned my husband Mike, the benefit of working from home. We get to our spouses can be our coworkers. And there was a day not the long ago where I think he heard me say, choosing again today, choosing love, still trying to choose love today. And he said, wow, you’re really working on that.

[14:57] Bobbi: I’m trying, man.

[15:02] Michael: But it’s every moment we have an opportunity to choose one or the other and it’s not like you suddenly get good at this and then everything all stress melts away. It’s not how the world works.

[15:14] Bobbi: That’s right. But I love the fact that you shared that because I’ve known you. Oh, my gosh. I think we met 2012 when I was working with you all and you come across as like this real mellow, kind of chill guy. And I think it’s good for people to know that this is an active practice that you have, and it’s a practice. Right. So that means sometimes I do well in practice, and sometimes I miss the ball.

[15:44] Michael: That’s absolutely correct. Yeah. The moments I look back in my career that I’m the most proud of are not the moments where I lost it, where I lost my where I raised my voice, where I made someone feel small, where I acted out or out of frustration. Those are not the moments that I’m proud of. Those are the moments that I have to hang my head a little bit, realize learned a lesson there. And the moments that I felt like where I did give myself the grace to pause and show up in a more reasoned way, those are the moments that I’m proud of because I feel like I got a better response. That’s right. A lot of that stems from early on in my career. I got some advice. I had a wonderful leader that I think there was a day that I was a little worked up, and I was mincing frustration. I was not choosing again at the moment. And he leaned in, put his hand on the table, and just said, michael, everything doesn’t have to be a fight, and you don’t always have to win. And that combination, it disarmed me, but it made me realize that, yeah, I don’t have to show up with the armor on every day. There’s dignity and vulnerability and that I don’t always have to win just for the sake of winning.

[17:16] Bobbi: That’s right.

[17:18] Michael: And leaders early in their career, you can see it where folks haven’t learned that yet. Right. They show up at the armor. There’s the benefit of, oh, as a leader, I’m supposed to fight tooth and nails for my team. I’m supposed to fight. No matter what it is, I’m supposed to always win. And it’s just not that’s how people get burnt out. That’s how hard way to be. It is.

[17:40] Bobbi: It’s a very hard way to be. Okay. So much gold in there, and there are a few things I want to make sure I highlight, because it could have been missed. Number one, you said the thing earlier about the pause. The pause is one of the most empowering things that we all have at our disposal. I think it was Stephen Covey who said that the goal is to make the pause longer, that space longer before we just because there’s a space between every stimulus and reaction. So let’s make that space bigger because there’s so much power there, we can choose how do we want to be in this moment? And sometimes the indulgent thing feels like losing it. I want to tell that person, but to your point, we’re usually never proud of that after the fact. It’s like, oh, man, what was I doing? So I love that. The other thing, you said this and you said it so quickly and quietly with your boss from years ago, whatever. And you said you could also say, I can recognize the humanity of the person sending it. That is an incredible point of view. And it took me right back to a couple of different things, but one was in grad school, we had a team project.

[18:56] Michael: Those are always the worst.

[18:58] Bobbi: Always the worst, because there’s always, like, a few people who show up more than others. And for whatever reason, I was kind of like the unofficial leader of this team project. And we had someone that she just disappeared. She was nowhere. And I think we had six people on the team, and so the other people are like, what’s going on? Just going like, she’s terrible. She’s complete villain. And I’m like, personally, I did kind of feel a little bit of that because I’m like, Come on, man, this is grad school. We got a lot of stuff going on here. And so I thought, okay, but this isn’t getting us anywhere. So it was a Sunday night, and I just reached out to her via email because I didn’t have her phone number, otherwise I would have called her. And I said, hey, I noticed that you haven’t been around, and it makes me think something must be going on. Are you okay? That’s all it was, and I didn’t know what she apparently had my phone number. Literally within two minutes, she called me, and she’s like, no one has ever shown me that kindness. And it was, like, complete we did not have a great relationship before that completely changed it. And as it turned out, she was a high level executive at a Fortune 50 company, and there had been a major breach within her department, and she was in a free fall. She’s like, I don’t even know. She’s like, I’ve never faced this in my 30 years doing this, but that’s what it took me back to. And by recognizing that humanity, I think that’s what draws us together, and I think we miss that so much. Do you know what I mean?

[20:34] Michael: Yeah, no. Thank you for sharing. I love that story. No one is intentionally trying to tank the group project.

[20:42] Bobbi: No.

[20:43] Michael: Right? No. No one’s intentionally trying to irritate their manager.

[20:48] Bobbi: Even though we might think they are. Why is that person annoying me on purpose? No, they’re really not.

[20:55] Michael: Right? We all don’t start our day to say, let me see how many people I can upset or irritate or bother in traffic today.

[21:06] Bobbi: That’s not what we’re doing. We’re all caught up in our own stuff. Okay, so a couple of other things I want to make sure we go back to too. You said that with vulnerability. It’s not like you become a pushover if you’re being vulnerable and you’re coming to the table, and you even said it can be about setting boundaries. So how do you be vulnerable and empathetic and not allow it to become a pushover or to be taken advantage of, if you know what I’m trying to ask.

[21:38] Michael: Yeah, I do understand. I think that it starts for me, one way I do it in the workplace is whenever I onboard a new team member, I outline very clearly the type of leader that they’re getting with me. But there are almost two types, and they ultimately get the choice of whatever version of me that’s going to show up that day. What that sounds like is I’ll say we have 8 hours a day to work together. It’s a limited amount of time. We have a lot of work to do and to accomplish. So there’s a lot to accomplish in a limited amount of time. And my preference is to lead you to reach all your financial goals. My preference is to coach you into the next level of your career. Let’s develop your sales process. Let’s make you the most successful you can be. So you’re showing up as your most authentic self, doing your best work. That is my preference. But we don’t get to do that in the eight hour day. If we’re having issues with professionalism, if you’re not showing up prepared, if we’re not meeting our expectations, if we’re not accountable to our goals, then suddenly I have to switch into it. That’s a different level of conversation. And so my preference is to lead you this way. But if we are not upholding our side of the bargain, then ultimately I have to lead in a different way. And so the benefit to you is I’m broadcasting that to you very clearly now, and you get to choose. It’s your choice.

[23:04] Bobbi: That’s right.

[23:05] Michael: And I think people, they’ll laugh and sometimes their eyes get a little wild.

[23:09] Bobbi: Why?

[23:10] Michael: They’re not meant to be scary.

[23:13] Bobbi: I want a different boss here.

[23:15] Michael: But the vulnerability is I’m putting my cards on the table. I’m being clear of this is what the stakes are. This is where we’re at. This is where my preference is. I’m going into the situation with the belief that we’re going to have a really great working relationship in the limited amount of time we get to work together. You’re going to do your best work, and it’s going to lead you to great things in your career. We only get to work with people a certain little blink in their careers.

[23:43] Bobbi: That’s right.

[23:44] Michael: It’s rare that you have the same manager for your entire career right.

[23:49] Bobbi: Anymore. Yeah.

[23:51] Michael: Right.

[23:52] Bobbi: Those days are gone.

[23:53] Michael: Yeah. We have this moment to work together. Why don’t we show up as our best selves? Why don’t we make an agreement that this is how we’re going to approach it? What do you need from me? What do you expect from me? How do you like to be coached? I will adapt to what works for you as long as we’re meeting the expectations of the job. And that’s the agreement. So the vulnerability there is putting cards on the table. It’s kind of saying, really, it’s ultimately your choice. It’s putting in their hands. So you do feel like you lose a little bit of that control with the leader. But really I’m not because I’m broadcasting very clearly, this is what I expect.

[24:33] Bobbi: Yeah. I think it comes down to the boundaries and the communication. I love that after the initial, like, what is he saying? After that initial, do people tend to respond pretty well?

[24:48] Michael: They do. And it opens up a conversation to say, hey, I know I’m a little intense. This is what you’re getting with me. But the intensity comes from a place of caring. It doesn’t come from a place of mistrust. And so I’m going into this arrangement with you with full trust. I know that I have to earn that. I know that I have to earn your trust. It doesn’t work both ways so seamlessly. But you are in this position. You were hired in this role because I trust that you’re the right person to do this. And so just know my energy and the intensity that I’m bringing is because I’m excited to work with you. I’m excited to see what you can do. And it’s not because I’m not intending to freak you out or scare you. Right. This shouldn’t be a scary thing. You shouldn’t be afraid to communicate with me how you’re feeling. You shouldn’t be afraid to come to me and say, I screwed up. What we’re going to do is we’re going to fix it. And what’s the teachable moment here? Not me screaming and flipping a table.

[25:50] Bobbi: Not what you get. That’s probably not going to help anybody. Really and truly. I love that, though. I love that. I think that goes a long way. Yeah. I think that’s a beautiful illustration of the vulnerability, but also setting the boundaries. Very cool. Okay. I want to go back to what your one boss said, too. Not everything is a fight. And you said you realized I don’t have to wear the armor every day. So first of all, how many years ago was that when you got that advice? Like last year?

[26:23] Michael: No, yesterday.

[26:26] Bobbi: Really? I’m working on it really hard.

[26:30] Michael: Still letting it sink in. Yeah, it was probably about probably about 1213 years ago.

[26:38] Bobbi: Wow.

[26:40] Michael: And I end up carried it every day.

[26:44] Bobbi: Yeah. Write that person a thank you note. How far have you come with that, do you think?

[26:53] Michael: I think some days are better than others. I’m best at it when I am willing to recognize the humanity of the organization, of the people that make up whatever group I’m in and understand that we have a collective responsibility to do our best. I see it in other people where the suit of armor goes on, when there’s change, when there’s big environmental shifts, economic instability, any of those things, because it’s very easy to feel like the change is being done to us. We’re not the willing participant in the change, but we are responsible as a leader to kind of get everybody else on board. So just understanding that we’re all willing participants, we all get to wake up and choose again and show up each day. We get to choose how we show up. So that, to me, is a good opportunity and each day to think through, how am I showing up? I have it written down. So my mantra at the moment is, great things are happening and I’m safe and taken care of. And that I have that on my desk. Right? And so for me, I don’t need the suit of armor because I’m going into each day with a reminder that I’m safe, taken care of. Great things are happening in my life, great things are happening to those around me. And I find, for me, that message helps me just be reminded that I don’t need to be defensive, I don’t have to put the suit of armor on everything doesn’t have to be fight. Now, when you take that approach, that doesn’t mean that you don’t ever fight or there isn’t an argument or there’s not room for disagreement. So that’s that boundaries with vulnerability piece. It’s just I get to pick and choose which battles I’m going to really invest the energy in, the things that mean the most to me, the things that I think make the most impact, so that when I do speak up or when I challenge, it’s not because up there he goes again. He’s always on his soapbox, he’s always.

[28:58] Bobbi: Upset about Here he goes. Michael right.

[29:03] Michael: It’s kind of that get out of jail free card in the sense of when you choose your battles specifically, people tend to listen more and they give you a bit more grace in their response to you.

[29:15] Bobbi: That’s right. It’s a really good point. That’s a very good point, because if we’re always at battle, then it’s like, oh, jeez, here it goes again. Not every battle is worth fighting. You know what I mean? And I know it’s an old saying, but pick them wisely. Your mantra, what occurred to me when you said that, Michael, is that’s very much love based. Right? That’s not a fear based, like, I got to go fight, I got to go grind, I got to go. It’s very much love based. Is that intentional?

[29:46] Michael: It is. I firmly believe that the greatest love story any of us will experience is the love we find within ourselves in the journey of life. If you can find self compassion, if you can find a way to talk to yourself in the way that you would talk to everyone else in your life that you love.

[30:09] Bobbi: Yeah.

[30:12] Michael: So the mantra now is just a way, as a general reminder, it’s a general hug to myself to say, it’s just something that I can look at in the. Moments where tension is running high, when frustrations are boiling over, when there are just life is happening. I can say, well, still great things are happening, and I am safe. I am taken care of. It’s all going to be fine.

[30:38] Bobbi: I love that recently I started one. I’m okay, I am safe. I am whole. I’m not a problem to be fixed because I think so many times, especially like, especially when you’re kind of an achiever, you’re always looking at, what can I work on next? Which is great, but that doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. It doesn’t have to be come from a deficit place, because this whole empathy piece, I think I had this experience. Oh, my gosh, this was 18 months ago, and I was going through another EQ certification. I was doing a recertification in It, and I had my coach with that company, and I score super high on empathy. And she’s like, okay, when’s the last time you’ve given empathy to yourself? And I just sat there like I said, I didn’t know I was supposed to. She said, it’s exactly what I was afraid of. It never occurred to me, like, I’m great at giving empathy to other people. I’m great at feeling that. But to give that to myself, oh, man, that’s taking some work. But I think that’s that whole thing around self love, self acceptance, because the more we give that to ourselves, the more we have to give to others, I think I don’t know. That’s my hypothesis, right?

[31:59] Michael: I think you and I are a lot alike in being checklist people, right? That you complete this, you get the satisfaction of crossing off the but it was never put on our checklist that we should care about ourselves enough to to give self love. And you know, I was reading something recently about when, you know, when you’re investing in yourself and you’re you’re thinking about ways you want to be better to to take the word better out and to really accept it as like, I’m changing, I want to be a better person, automatically assumes there’s something wrong with you.

[32:34] Bobbi: That’s right. There’s an automatic deficit.

[32:36] Michael: And instead of saying, I would like to change because I want healthy relationships, I want to show up with kindness. And just taking the better aspect out of it is just accepting that I’m fine as I am. I am whole to your point. I’m a whole as a person, but I am changing and I am developing, and not because to get better, but that’s right for changing sake.

[32:59] Bobbi: Oh, that is brilliant. That’s really good, because that goes I did an interview yesterday with someone, and she was talking about how the words that we use become spells. And it’s like, if we’re constantly telling ourselves, I’m trying to get better, we are saying there is a deficit. There’s something that I’m trying to overcome to compensate for love. That. Oh, my God. See, this is why I love talking with you. It occurred to me today, I was getting ready, and it occurred to me, gosh, sometimes you are kind of hard on yourself. Surprise. Never knew that. I get that feedback a lot. But what instantly came into my mind was, how about this? How about being nice to yourself? Not just, hey, let’s not be so hard on yourself. How about this notion? Be kind to yourself. Be as kind to myself as I would be to someone else. And so that’s very interesting to me. I don’t know, I might edit that out.

[34:07] Michael: I think it’s valuable because we talk about all the buzzwords out there gratitude, vulnerability, empathy. But there’s just not enough of that for ourselves. I got a gratitude journal where it’s five minutes and five minutes in the morning, five minutes at night, and you just five things that you do that you’re grateful for waking up, and then it’s got a statement where you say, this is what I’m looking forward to my day, or this is what would make today amazing. And then you do a recap of five things you’re grateful for at the end. And one of the things I’ve tried to incorporate is something specifically grateful about that I did. I can be thankful that how I showed up or what I did for myself. I’m grateful that I did an extra ten minutes on the bike, or I’m grateful for my body to be able to do that, or I’m grateful for that. I carved out time to take the dogs on a walk. But instead of gratitude being in response to things happening around me, or to me being grateful about the things that I had control over and the choices that I made and where I showed up and where I felt like I showed up as my best, because that is not my default. Right? It is my default is all the things you don’t like, let’s make a checklist and let’s change all because there’s something wrong with it. Right? It’s helping again, it’s a journey. There’s not a moment where I think you and I would love it if there was a situation where we just say, now we’re complete. We’ve crossed the finish line, self actualized, we’ve done it. No more work left to be done. But that’s not really how it works.

[35:49] Bobbi: Unfortunately, how it works. But Michael, that is a brilliant thing to add in the thing that you’re grateful for what you did. That is really good. How do you think that’s helped?

[36:02] Michael: It made me a lot more mindful of it. So what I learned over the years in coaching is if you don’t reinforce and I learned this very specifically from you if you don’t reinforce the great things that someone did and help them understand the context of why that was so fantastic, they’re not going to keep doing it.

[36:23] Bobbi: That’s right.

[36:24] Michael: If no one ever told you you were really good at this thing, you might not have necessarily recognized that in yourself. And so it’s my way to myself to say, just keep going. You’ve got it. You’re on the right track.

[36:38] Bobbi: I love that. And I really love the application back to giving that to yourself. Great way to add on. That is just wonderful. See that’s? Perfect. All right, so we are almost out of time because we took 20 minutes to chat beforehand. It was awesome. So anything else you want to share before we wrap up? That type of thing?

[37:04] Michael: I think if anyone’s listening and they’re overwhelmed or they’re not sure where to get started, it starts small. For me, the game changer is the opportunity to make a choice and then also choose again if you feel like the choice was wrong and understanding that everything doesn’t have to be a fight. It’s not a zero sum game where everything is an argument that you have to win or lose. I think those are the two main components for me that have been life changing.

[37:37] Bobbi: I love that. So much good stuff in this interview, once again. So if someone wants to reach out, they’ve got questions, anything like that, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

[37:47] Michael: LinkedIn would be the best, and so I think you can include that in the show notes. Perfect.

[37:52] Bobbi: I’ll do that. Terrific. Michael, as always, it is just such a pleasure talking with you.

[37:59] Michael: Likewise. Thank you so much. I love that you do this show. It is such an amazing resource and a treasure for people. So thank you. Keep doing it.

[38:07] Bobbi: Thank you. Thank you for that feedback. I need to hear that sometimes. As you can probably tell, I always love talking with Michael, even when we’re not on the podcast, because I always feel like no matter what conversation I have with Michael, I walk away from that conversation better for it. I always learn something new. There’s always little insights. And so I hope that you just took a ton from that conversation, because I know that I did, and I’ve said this before, but my goal in these conversations is to bring you different conversations, a real variety that will help you as you navigate your life and as you create your desired future. So I hope that you have an absolutely terrific week and that you continue to thrive no matter what.

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